USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘constellation’
Myths
Narrative

Manaiakalani

Informant: Uluwehi is a 21-year-old student from Hawaiʻi. She is from the island of Oʻahu.

Main Piece: “Okay so…Māui was the youngest of four brothers. And one day, he wanted to go fishing with his brothers. But they told him ‘no, no Māui, you’re the baby brother, you can’t come fish.’ So Māui went to his grandmother and asked her for help. She took her jawbone and made it into a magic fishhook, Manaiakalani.

So Māui was really smart and he hid himself on his brothers’ boat. When they got too far out to turn around, Māui jumped out. They were annoyed with him but let him stay because it was too late. But they were telling him off and didn’t think he would catch anything. He told them he would catch something really big, but they had to trust him and keep rowing until he caught it and not look back.

Māui baited his hook with feathers and threw it into the ocean. It caught something really big, and the brothers started rowing and rowing and Māui told them to kept rowing. And the boat was almost capsizing because the fish was so big. But the fish was actually the land that would become Hawaiʻi, and Māui was going to bring them all up and together.

Because the boat was rocking so much and they were really worried, one of the brothers looked back and saw all of the islands being dragged up from the ocean. And they’re all beautiful, but because the brother looked, the line broke. Manaiakalani went into the sky and became a constellation. And the islands stayed as separate islands. But Māui had made Hawaiʻi.”

Background Information about the Performance: This piece was told to the informant as a means of explaining the constellation Manaiakalani, which is composed of roughly the same stars as the Western constellation Scorpio. She was told it as a child by her family, and also learned it in school. It is important to her as it describes the creation of Hawaii, her home.

Context of Performance: This piece is told primarily to children as a means of understanding the constellations, but also fits into the larger story of Māui.

Thoughts: It is noteworthy that this piece explains a constellation, much like the Western constellations are explained in stories. Since both the Hawaiians and the Ancient Greeks sail avidly, these constellation-based stories could have been created to help sailors remember directions when navigating.

Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

The Old Man and the Cot

In a village lived a very generous and well-liked old man. He was so old that he no longer left his cot. The old man had a young wife, and one day, he saw her sneaking out of the house after dark. The old man did not want to distrust his wife, and so he reasoned that he must’ve imagined it. The next day, he didn’t bring it up. The following night however, he again saw her tiptoeing out yet again and so the night after that, the old man moved his cot by the window and saw her meeting a young man. He decided to ask her of her whereabouts the following morning. When he asked her, she looked insulted and rashly replied, “I was by your side all night, I never left. You dreamt it.” The wife was angry that her husband knew of her affair, and she slit his throat that night while he slept on his cot. As he lay dying, the old man called out to God that in exchange for his righteous, honest life, his wife always have a reminder of his death which she would be haunted by after she’d made off with her lover. God hear his prayers and took him and his cot up into the sky, becoming a diamond-shaped constellation.
This was the second story related by Haleh and translated by Mayuri. This story, like the one about the sisters is about the big dipper; however, this one is only about the “dipper” in the big dipper which turns out to be the old man’s cot.  Haleh was cooking for us while we were camping in the Thar Desert, he told the story as a way to entertain ourselves since it was night and apart from the flickering fire that was soon to go out, there was nothing to do and no lights in sight. Therefore, we all stayed around the fire and listened to him and shared stories (all relayed by Mayuri who spoke his language, Marwari).

Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Seven Sisters

Once there were seven sisters and when it came time for marriage, the proposed sister decided to runaway for she did not want to be married. When her sisters saw her escaping, they followed her one-by-one and when the first runaway fell in a well, the other six followed. The constellation therefore shows the seven sisters in the well (cluster)

Indian stories, these were collected from a nomad camel driver named Haleh in the Thar desert in Rajasthan (he was Muslim, his village was near the Pakistani border). Haleh spoke only Marwari and his words were translated and related by Mayuri Bhandari. This story relates the creation of the star constellation known in North America as “the Big Dipper”. In this story, the well is the four star, square cluster (occupied by four of the sisters) and the tail is the line of the remaining three sisters waiting to throw themselves in it.

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